Jackson County Opinions...

NOVEMBER 24, 2004

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
November 24, 2004

We Still Have A Lot To Be Thankful For
A sample of the stories in Friday’s newspapers indicated the following:
•Afghanistan, under the U.S.-backed regime, is producing record amounts of heroin. Land cultivated for poppies amounts to 321,236 acres, up 64 percent from last year. Afghanistan produces 87 percent of the world’s heroin.
•The Bush Administration is making familiar noises. Intelligence reports that Iran is cranking up its nuclear program and there is talk of the need for regime change.
•The Food and Drug Administration is “virtually incapable” of protecting Americans against unsafe drugs, and whistleblowers pointing this out are suffering the consequences.
•There is a possible case of Mad Cow disease.
•The situation in Iraq is further deteriorating.
But this is not the time of the year to look at the glass as half empty. It is the time we put down our newspapers and their often-worrisome headlines, turn the TV off and reflect not on what is wrong or seems wrong, but on those things which make our lives joyous or fulfilling.
It is all too easy as we digest the events of each day to not only be pessimistic about the future, but to also forget all that is good. Thanksgiving calls us to, well, acknowledge the good, to be grateful for our blessings and to give thanks to God for the things that give us love and comfort, bring satisfaction or make life interesting or amusing.
The American Thanksgiving holiday centers around our family, which most of us recognize as the biggest blessing of our lives. Much is made in our culture of the need to “succeed” and to possess, but when all is said and done, our relationships with parents, spouses and children are crucial to our happiness. We find other things, from politics to sports, that seem important as we deal with them, but in comparison to our loved ones, they are irrelevant.
Thanksgiving reminds us of the cliche that we should “stop and smell the roses,” which to me means slow down, look around and acknowledge the aspects of our lives and our surroundings that bring joy and pleasure. I note that my dog, Chief, still greets me with enthusiasm every day, even though George Bush was re-elected and the Braves exited early from the playoffs.
Thanksgiving ought to be a part of our daily lives. Maybe it says something about our culture that we have to make an “official” day for thanks-giving, as though we can relegate all feelings of gratitude and blessings to a single day, after which we head to the mall and begin the “celebration” of Christmas.
Every one of us has much for which to be thankful, but it is human nature to forget our blessings to concentrate on what we want to acquire or accomplish. If you’ve got a household income of $50,000, are struggling with debt and can’t afford a Hummer, chances are you’re anxious and not particularly appreciative for your situation, even though you are rich compared to the rest of the world and beloved by your family.
I have a lot for which to be thankful; so do you. Thursday is a good day to acknowledge our blessings. So is any other day of the year. Happy Thanksgiving.

The Commerce News
November 24
, 2004

Give Thanks For Our Lives Of Abundance
The leftovers of Thanksgiving dinners will not yet be consumed when America turns its attention to the celebrating of a savior’s birth by heading to the store for Christmas shopping.
But Thanksgiving is more than the pause before the Christmas season. It is a time to feel gratitude for whatever is good – including the ability to spend massive amounts of money for Christmas. And while various groups might have different takes on to whom we should be grateful for all our blessings, it remains appropriate that we do take time out to recognize how much we have.
Thursday is a day to cease our longing to have more and to recognize the value of what we have. It is the occasion to be thankful for friends and family, for good health, for the comfort and abundance in which we live. It is a time to realize that no matter what our situation is, we are blessed. It is also a time to recognize that chief among our blessings are the things and people we actually take for granted, like friends and family, shelter and security, freedom and fortune.
Thankfulness is a state of mind and Thanksgiving is a day set aside to encourage those of us not prone to remembering the extent of our blessings to look around and realize how fortunate we are. Just being born in America is a blessing, and to some of our newcomers, just living in America is a gift.
The Pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving feast to celebrate their survival. Most of us take that for granted except at times of illness. If the Pilgrims felt compelled to thank God just for being alive, how much more thankful should we feel as we live in abundance?

Deserved More Coverage
Newspapers are often accused of blowing up routine events into sensational ones, but sometimes the reverse is true as well. Every now and then something that deserves a lot of attention does not get it. Such was the occasion last week.
Those who read the school news saw a photo and caption about the East Jackson Middle School eighth grade EV (Electric Vehicle) team winning numerous awards at the Annual Georgia Fall Electric Vehicle Rally.
What only a discerning reader would pick out, however, is that EJMS entered two teams in competition with high school students from across Georgia, and won first and second place overall – in essence, state champion and state runner-up in their class.
Yep, against high schools. EJMS was the only middle school represented; all the other competitors were high schools. The Challenge students of Dr. Teddie Lohmeier’s EV Technology Class dominated, winning first-place and second-place Best Overall, winning first-place in oral presentation, range and trouble shooting, second in acceleration and third in autocross. With seven new trophies, EJMS may have to order another display case.
The Jackson County School System and Jackson EMC pioneered the EV program, which now operates in several states. It is recognized as a means of using hands-on experience to teach everything from electricity, math and physics to writing and public speaking.
Meanwhile, the Jackson County Comprehensive High School’s teams won overall first-place awards in the E-Kart class and the full-size class, demonstrating the strength of the EV program throughout the Jackson County School System.
The East Jackson Middle School “Shock and Rollers” shocked the competition and rolled to an unprecedented sweep of the top two places, and the JCCHS teams won their classes because, like any championship team, they out-worked the competition. Their accomplishments speaks well of the EV program, the students and the instructors.

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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
November 24, 2004

Water authority will win Arcade fight
Sometimes, there is justice in politics. And justice may be about to take place in Arcade.
For months, Arcade leaders pushed and shoved to get a water service territory. That effort has been driven partly by greed and partly by the naiveté of its leaders.
Arcade was aided in that effort by a complicit board of commissioners, a board that has long sought to destroy the county water authority.
Thus, the current BOC carved out a water service territory for Arcade in an effort to undermine the county water system’s financial future.
Riding on all of this is a huge development of a reported 2,400 homes on the old 4W farm south of Arcade. Arcade leaders saw this as a chance to enlarge the town (and thereby their own power) and to get into the water business, a move they mistakingly believe will bring them riches.
Lost in all the shuffle, however, was some legal details. It turns out that despite the territory dispute, the county water system still has a legal right to run water lines inside the new Arcade service area.
The only impact may be that the county water system won’t be able to get new loans or grants for projects in that area.
Here’s where the justice comes in.
If a large project needs loans or grants to provide water or sewerage service, only Arcade will now be able to qualify. But Arcade doesn’t have a water system. And given the ill-will Arcade leaders created in their bid for control, it’s unlikely that the county water system would be willing to sell an upstart Arcade one drop of water at wholesale price.
That means developers who want to build in Arcade will have to go to the county water authority, bypassing the town council. And since the county water authority may not qualify for loans or grants, the developer may have to cough up more money to finance a project.
In some instances, the new arrangement may even kill a project because of this financial mishmash.
And here’s another catch: Because of all the talk about the high-density 2,400-home project near Arcade, county school system leaders have gotten very interested in the matter. Indeed, county school superintendent Andy Byers has called for a growth summit meeting in January or February to discuss the long-term impact of allocating water resources to help high-density growth and the effect that will have on the county school system.
Thus, the water authority is being squeezed between two very large forces: It wants to sell water to make its debt obligations, but it doesn’t want to be perceived as selling water to facilitate high density development projects.
That could bring pressure on the proposed Arcade project to have lower density, or not be approved at all.
At a minimum, the dynamics of this issue have increased the power of the water authority as a key player in county growth decisions.
One of the reasons Arcade leaders said they wanted a water service territory is so the town could “control its own destiny.”
But the opposite has happened. The backlash from that move now puts a major part of Arcade’s destiny in the hands of the county water authority.
Arcade picked a fight it couldn’t win, dealing itself out of this high-stakes development game when it allied with a lame-duck BOC in an unschooled grab for power and money.
Which proves the old saying, “What goes around, comes around.”
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

The Jackson Herald
November 24, 2004

Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863
“It is the duty of nations as well as of men to swear their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in holy scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.
“We know that by his divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown.
“But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
“It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
Signed: A. Lincoln
October 3, 1863

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